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Sandro Botticelli's painting of the Adoration of the Magi has an inserted self-portrait at the far right: the position in the corner and the gaze out to the viewer are very typical of such self-portraits.

Self-insertion is a literary device in which the author writes themselves into the story as a fictional character.[1]


In art, the equivalent of self-insertion is the inserted self-portrait, where the artist includes a self-portrait in a painting of a narrative subject. This has been a common artistic device since at least the European Renaissance.

This literary device should not be confused with a first-person narrator, an author surrogate,[clarification needed] or a character somewhat based on the author, whether the author included it intentionally or not. Many characters have been described as unintentional self-insertions, implying that their author is unconsciously using them as an author surrogate.[citation needed]

"X-insert" or "reader-insert" fiction has the reader appear as a character in the story; their name is substituted with "you" or "y/n" ("your name").[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Self-insertion meaning". Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  2. ^ "The A to Z of fan fiction". Inquirer Lifestyle. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  3. ^ Mason, Fran (2009). The A to Z of Postmodernist Literature and Theater. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 338–. ISBN 9780810868557. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  4. ^ Klinkowitz, Jerome (1992). Structuring the Void: The Struggle for Subject in Contemporary American Fiction. Duke University Press. pp. 52–. ISBN 9780822312055. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  5. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Dirk Pitt Revealed | An Official Web Site for Bestselling Adventure Novelist | Author Clive Cussler".
  7. ^ Bill Watterson. The complete Calvin and Hobbes Book One Introduction.